Date
30 March 2017
Uber has admitted to deploying a program to help the firm sidestep authorities in cities where its service was banned or faced resistance. Photo: Bloomberg
Uber has admitted to deploying a program to help the firm sidestep authorities in cities where its service was banned or faced resistance. Photo: Bloomberg

Uber used secret ‘Greyball’ tool to evade authorities

Uber Technologies has confirmed that it used a secret tool for many years to avoid authorities in markets where its ride hailing service faced resistance or was banned.

The company admitted that it deployed a program called Greyball, which uses data from the Uber app and other methods to identify and circumvent officials who aimed to ticket or apprehend drivers, Reuters reports.

The confirmation came after the New York Times revealed on Friday the existence of the program that enabled the ride-hailing service to deceive authorities in cities that opposed its operations. 

The tool allowed Uber to show images of “ghost” Uber cars on the app or show that no cars were available, in order to fool the authorities, the paper said.

Reuters quoted an Uber spokeswoman as saying that Greyball is still in use, albeit in a scaled-down form.

The tool was the result of an effort to protect the app from disruption by competitors and drivers from abuse and, in more rare cases, was also used where there were enforcement stings, the spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, Uber’s best-known security researcher and vice president of product and growth resigned on Friday, without giving reasons.

It was unclear if the departures were connected to Greyball, Reuters said.

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